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Wildlife Works, Reclaiming the Rukinga Sanctuary
There was a time when the semi-arid environment of Rukinga meant little or nothing to its inhabitants; a time when many of them cared little whether the unproductive ecology was to be depraved or whether it would hold strong for the future generations. After all, the region’s clime was unfavorable for agriculture. During this extended period of uncertainties, the only economically viable thing that ran through the local’s mind was hunting and charcoal burning, of course at the risk of suffering the full wrath of the Kenya forest service and the Kenya wildlife service authorities.
Things would have continued along the same destructive vein were it not for the timely touching base of the Wildlife Works EPZ Company and the subsequent launch of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project along the Kasigau Corridor. The project which encourages the locals to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment and the biodiversity in the region has literally been a life saver. It has transformed the locals’ mindset in a roundabout way and led to much conservation in the region. Whereas trees and wildlife used to be abused without a whim of concern, the locals now guard their environment jealously. Any case of environmental degradation is swiftly dealt with using the relevant authorities; the locals have become their own watchmen.
A quick tour and research into the benefits that the locals accrue from a well-guarded ecological system would reveal why they want no one playing monkey-business with their forests and wildlife.
“My children would never have seen the door to a secondary School were it not for the intervention of Wildlife Works,” is a testimony you are likely to read in many a locals’ lips. Through its +REDD project the organization has set up carbon committees in every location. A huge amount of the profits earned from the carbon credit are ploughed back into the community in form of secondary school bursaries for needy and academically brilliant students. This year alone the company has been able to sponsor more than 25 needy students.
Apart from the scholarships, Wildlife Works has also been able to initiate community projects and provide employment to a majority of the residents. The rise in viable employment opportunities that Wildlife Works provides has led to less dependence of environmentally-hazardous ways of earning a leaving leading to more conservation.
The greenhouse project which buys tree seedlings from the locals at the cost of 10/= per sapling has also earned a soft spot in the locals’ hearts and become a darling of many. Mr. George Njoroge who is in charge of community relations in the area explains, “The Company encourages the locals to plant tree seedlings. It then buys the seedlings from the farmers, nurtures them up to a certain stage and then gives them back to the farmers.” Think about that. The company buys tree seedlings from the farmers, nurtures them for the farmers when they are in their critical stage, and then gives them back to the same farmers at nada charges!
What is more important however is the rise of an environmentally-conscious generation that the eco-friendly and sustainable activities of Wildlife Works are producing. Many primary and secondary schools around here have started environment clubs, and the company has dedicated its staff to the training and educating these young environment enthusiasts on how to cater for their Mazingira (Swahili for environment).